When we meet someone and fall in love, we have a sense that the whole universe is on our side (Coelho, 2003). Falling in love is an intoxicating experience, one that completely changes the course of your life. Man has attempted to explain in detail about this invigorating phenomenon that is love. C.S Lewis elaborates on how profound love is yet still has the potential to foster darkness in the form of compulsiveness, depression or even suicide (Lewis, 1960). Shakespeare quipped, What is love? The scientist says that it is chemistry; the philosopher refers to it as a passionate commitment, the psychotherapist as a fusion of many emotions, and for the romantic, an emotion that drives all great stories.
All human beings are bound to love, in whatever form. Based on his experiments, C.S Lewis categorized love into four major areas: philia which refers to the love between friends that is only comparable to that between siblings. Eros refers to being in love or loving, which aims to explain the distinction between the desire to have a woman and that of a particular woman. Agape love serves regardless of changing circumstances e.g. the love of a deity to his creations, like the love of God for Christians (which is considered to the purest and most unconditional type of love in existence).
Of all the types of love, Eros is the most conspicuous and experienced. Man craves to love and be loved and so he goes out of his way encounter this emotion. He invests his time and resources in the process of courtship and endless speculation on whether the other person is whom they are meant to be with. This brings us to the phases of falling in love. There is the physical attraction, youre drawn to his/her smile, and you think they have beautiful eyes. This is the bodys mechanism of identifying a potential mate and a means of survival. This stage is characterized by the sudden and continuous surge of euphoria. You are excited about the prospect of seeing or talking to her.
Science explains this euphoria as the nervous response to an exciting stimulus. It is said that the regions in the brain that are awakened by love are the same ones stimulated when one partakes of alcohol or drugs. It is similar to the process of forming an addiction to drugs. Love is a drug, love is an addiction. The best of its kind. The process of determining if the other party is interested as you are can be a daunting one especially if you dont have mutual friends. This is where men conventionally have to draft an approach strategy to ensure that his advances are not rejected. It tends to be hellish if the woman has to initiate dialogue or interest as society is very patriarchal and terms such moves indecent or desperate.
In the period of waiting to be approached, you are on the verge of losing your mind as you greatly anticipate this attraction to morph into something. You play out different scenarios in your mind before anything actually happens. For instance, you imagine running into him/her in the corridors of the office or at a popular joint. A simple hi generates myriads of analyses with close friends or acquaintances, trying to decipher if there was a deeper connotation to it. This anxiety is usually self-inflicted.
This next stage can be dizzying as it involves a great magnitude of vulnerability. You have to loosen up and be open to the possibility of another person loving you. It can be paralyzing especially if you have had horrific experiences in the past or are new to the experience altogether. These are foreign feelings, they are remotely impossible to explain, you feel as if you are losing control of who you are and what you ought to feel. Thud, when trust is fostered in this stage, a feeling of attachment is initiated. This is analogous to the high one gets when they first take a sniff of cocaine or a puff of marijuana.
The honeymoon period of falling in love is the most tedious yet exciting of all of the stages. This is because you are on your ps and qs and want to leave a lasting impression. For the lady, she will go to great lengths to make sure that she is easy on the eyes e.g. wearing make-up, making a conscious effort to wear her best clothes. As for the man, hell want to seem hilarious and macho enough, just the right dose of interesting. It is the stage at which people give their best and all. You are in a constant phase of euphoria and just like K-Ci and Jojos song, youve have been praying for someone like that to walk into your life. Life is at its best and you see it through rose coloured glasses. So you spend more time together, peeling away the layers of mystery. It is the stage at which you seek to add depth to the physical attraction. Love is born, when in essence hormones are just causing chaos in your body. You cannot breathe; you cannot believe your fortune. Your sense of worth is validated and you feel as if you could conquer pretty much any hurdle that is placed in your course.
You are less vulnerable to pain, and just a slight brush with the object of your affection is enough to drive you to the verge of insanity. It is also when one is most prone to be averse to the true colours of your newly found interest. Science explains this by stating that the levels of cortisol and follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is high in your body. Falling in love has given you a sense of security and so your aim to retain the object of your affection (Ehlers CL, 1988).
Then the honeymoon phase wears off and reality gives you a startling smack in the face. However, you still love them. You have made a solid decision to love and stay with them regardless of their flaws. You become their anchor and you develop a subconscious level of interdependence. You both depend on each other to go through the cycles of life. This is one of the most challenging times because it means you have to embrace and accept that the notions to you had him/her as the ultimate may be fizzling out. You have to make do with what actually is rather than the illusion of who you thought they were. It happens that sometimes we fall in love with the idea of the person rather than the person themselves and this sets as up for grave disappointment. Then the cookie crumbles for so many reasons.
Theres nothing more toxic than the last kicks of a dying relationship. One is faced with the dilemma of either fighting for the relationship or letting go. Most times, we settle for the former even when we are well are aware that the relationship is in a critical stage. So critical that the wound of memories and what could have been begins to fester. So you are forced to come to the realization that you have to let go or your significant other doesnt feel like you are working out anymore. Those words are enough to incapacitate you there and then, then for days, weeks, months and even years.
Heartbreak is equivalent to somebody torching you and expecting you not to cry. It scalds and theirs is very little that you can do alleviate the pain. So you turn to food, or obsess over your work because your fix is no longer available to you. You are experiencing withdrawal symptoms; fits of denial wear you like a prominent scar. It is at this time that you are prone to bouts of embarrassment; you embarrass yourself by groping to a sinking ship. You beg, cajole, manipulate even cry, just to get your fix back.
Even the best love stories sometimes come to an end, case in point, Romeo and Juliet. You are in a baffling state of denial, how could such a sweet thing come to an end? You didnt see it coming and even so, you still hope to revive the pangs of the dying relationship. You find reasons to justify your denial. Our sense of judgement elapses and we will not listen to anybody who attempts to give sound advice. They are probably jealous or ill-willed.
Then a wave of anger engulfs you, you cannot understand why they would leave you, end the relationship. No amount of explanations and justifications can soothe the anger that you harbour for your once significant other. You are angry at them for leaving and at yourself for allowing it to happen (though more often than not, theres little one could have done). Once you get over the anger, you proceed to bargain. You explore avenues that will seek to revive your relationship, even if the methods are devious and conniving.
Depression sets in as you view the failure of your relationship as a blow to your personality. As a result, your self-esteem plummets and you dive further into self-pity. You will wallow for a long time as you seek to heal and move on with your life. Many writers, poets, musicians and actors have borne their greatest works out of a break up. A good example is British singer Adele Adkins; she released her album 21 to much world acclaim and ended up breaking numerous world music records. Not many people can view their pain as a learning point and make the best out of it. It requires great fortitude and courage.
Broken heart syndrome is the technical term that has been assigned to explain the terrible physical pain one endures after a break up. It feels like a constriction in ones throat and chest. It mimics the actual process of having a heart attack (Ehlers CL, 1988). This goes to explain why some people actually die of a heart break, the despair is unbearable.
Rejection triggers a low sense of self-worth and feelings of despair, hence the reason a lot of people avoid expressing their intentions and would rather speculate or throw vague hints. The fear or rejection hinders a lot of us from pursuing what we actually want.
In conclusion, the power of love is no doubt overwhelming. Great civilizations were birthed through and love and equally brought down because of the same. Love has the ability to make the e mundanity of life bearable. It is beautiful and transformational. Love unutilized has the ability to bear darkness and destroy much good.
Coelho, P. (2003). Elleven Minutes. Harper Collins.
Ehlers CL, F. E. (1988). Social zeitgebers and biological rhythms. A unified approach to understanding the etiology of depression. Archives of General psychiatry, 948-952.
Lewis, C. (1960). The Four Loves. Goeffrey Bless.
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